New Harbor to Boost Cruise Ship Calls in Scotland

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The Port of Aberdeen is gearing up to welcome the first cruise ships to its new South Harbour development, where docking facilities can accommodate much larger vessels than the port’s North Harbour. The first cruise ship to call will be AIDACruises’ 1,266-guest AIDAaura in late April.

More Than Two-Dozen Ships Will Call

The Port of Aberdeen’s $500 million South Harbour debuts in spring 2023, and the scheduled visits by 25 cruise ships to the North Sea port this year will deliver some 12,000 tourists to the remote destination.

Tourism and port officials say the ship visits will translate into a financial boost for the regional economy, to the tune of about $1.8 million from guest expenditures and local excursions.

Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive, Port of Aberdeen, said: “We’re delighted to welcome a host of new cruise vessels to Port of Aberdeen in the maiden year of South Harbour. We expect to see year-on-year increases in the number of cruise calls as we ramp up our capacity and capability. It’s encouraging to see that major international cruise lines are already booking their larger cruise ships for calls to Aberdeen in 2024 and beyond.”

Photo Courtesy: Port of Aberdeen, Scotland

All cruise ship guests will receive a festive welcome upon arrival, in part to convince them to travel back to the region on a land trip.

Chris Foy, Chief Executive of VisitAberdeenshire, said, “Disembarking passengers – who will be met by our Welcome to Aberdeenshire volunteers – will have a wealth of experiences to enjoy during their time on our shores, planting the seed for future travel back to Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for a longer stay.”

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Public Protection Committee Convener Councillor Miranda Radley added: “With new port infrastructure, we are delighted to attract new cruise activity that will bring more visitors and allow us to showcase our region. Aberdeen is a fantastic place to visit, attracting visitors to the city is embedded in our city centre and beach masterplans.”

Expedition Ships Among 2023 Calls

Teams from Port of Aberdeen and major cruise lines, such as the Carnival Corp. brands, will take part in reciprocal training and fam visits this year, a statement from the port said.

AIDA Cruises is a Carnival brand. The AIDAaura is scheduled to be sold by the line as part of a fleet optimization strategy. The ship will sail under the AIDA brand until September 2023. No other Carnival brands are slated to call at Aberdeen in 2023, according to the port schedule.

AIDAsol Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: penofoto / Shutterstock

However, other ships on the 2023 visitor roster include expedition ships like National Geographic’s NG Resolution and Quark Expeditions’ Ocean Adventurer, plus Azamara Cruises’ Azamara Pursuit and Azamara Journey, and Sea Cloud Cruises’ Spirit, among a few others. Some of the ships will make multiple calls to the port this year.

Harbor Facility Nearing Completion

The port’s South Harbour development is set to be completed in the second quarter of 2023 and its deep water and larger dock facilities will enable it to accommodate the majority of the world’s cruise ship fleet.

Previously, the North Harbour facility typically attracted boutique cruise ships, the port noted. According to port data, North Harbor accommodates vessel lengths up to about 558 feet, maximum beams of 98 feet and drafts up to 28 feet.

Read Also: The Essential Guide to All Southampton Cruise Terminals

South Harbor’s capacity is for ships up to 985 feet long, 148 feet wide and 35 feet deep. (For context, the world’s largest ship sailing today, Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas, is 1,187 feet long.)

The Port of Aberdeen also is a major cargo ferry port, with services connecting to Norway and continental Europe. Port records say the facility dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest existing business in Britain.

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